FAQ – Certification

Q: What is a death certificate?
A: A death certificate is a formal document that states what a person died of. It should be correctly referred to as Medical Certificate of Cause of Death or MCCD in short. This document should not be confused with the “Verification of Death” certificate which is issued by the NHS out of hours service.
Q: Who issues a MCCD?
A: The MCCD is either issued by  the hospital, if death took place at one, or by the GP if death took place at home.
Q: What happens if the person who died did not have a GP?
A: In such circumstances the death would be reported to the Coroner. See section on HM Coroner and Post-Mortems for more details information.
Q: Why do GP’s sometimes refuse to issue a MCCD?
A: GP’s may refuse to issue a MCCD for two main reasons. The first would be if they had not seen the patient within 14 days of their death and secondly if they are unsure of what the patient actually died of. The GP would be breaking the law if he or she issued the MCCD in such circumstances.
Q: How can family members obtain the MCCD if their loved one passes away on a weekend or bank holiday?
A: Deaths that occur over the weekend or bank holiday can cause difficulties when it comes to securing a MCCD. This is usually because the doctors that were treating the deceased are off duty and not contactable by the hospital. For vulnerable patients we advise that family members liaise closely with the hospital ward and doctors requesting them for their availability should anything happen over the weekend or holiday period. For vulnerable patients at home the same request should be made to the patients GP.